Project Pegasus Group Wins Journalism Award for NSO Investigation

The George Polk Award for technology reporting was given to the international group – which includes Haaretz – that investigated the abuse of NSO's hacking spyware

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A mobile phone near the NSO Group company logo in February.
A mobile phone near the NSO Group company logo in February.Credit: JACK GUEZ - AFP

Haaretz, along with an international group of media outlets, won this year’s George Polk Award for technology reporting for the Project Pegasus investigation into abuse of spyware sold by Israel’s NSO Group to repressive regimes worldwide.

The award was given to an international group of news outlets led by the Paris-based NGO Forbidden Stories, which collaborated on the report published in July.

The Forbidden Stories network, which includes the Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde and other news outlets, “revealed that spyware sold by the Israeli company NSO Group Technologies to combat terrorism and crime was used to tap into the phones of 65 business executives, 85 human rights activists, 189 journalists and more than 600 politicians and officials around the world,” Long Island University, which awards the journalism honor, said in its statement.

Last summer, Project Pegasus and Amnesty’s Security Lab organized an international consortium of journalists, including Haaretz’s Omer Benjakob and its sister publication TheMarker’s Amitai Ziv, to investigate thousands of potential targets selected for possible surveillance by NSO Group clients worldwide.

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The investigation was based on a leaked database of more than 50,000 records of phone numbers that NSO clients selected for surveillance. NSO denies any connection to the database and claims that the phone numbers are not linked to its clients.

The prestigious Polk Awards, presented by Long Island University, honor special achievements in journalism, with a particular focus on investigative reporting in the public interest. The awards are named after George Polk, an American correspondent murdered in Greece in 1948 while covering the country’s civil war.

Other recipients this year include ABC News, for reports on how climate change stoked famine in Madagascar; the Wall Street Journal, for a series that showed how Facebook ignored warnings about the damaging effects of its business practices; and CNN, for its coverage of the Taliban’s reconquest of Afghanistan.

The European Parliament's top journalism prize was also awarded to Forbidden Stories and the Project Pegasus consortium for the investigation in October.

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